Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,
First, I want to thank you for serving in such a high-profile position within your congregation. The congregation has placed within your hands a very sacred trust and literally you are making a decision that will have eternal and temporal impact upon your lives of your congregants. It is a very serious matter and you are to be applauded for agreeing to serve.
However, as a pastor, I want to talk with you briefly about a trend that is disturbing. Before I begin, I want to say I don’t have a dog in this fight. But as a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and one who has been through the process – I’m seeing something now that was not present even five years ago when I began the process at my current assignment in Frankfort, Kentucky.
I’m referring to a breach in confidentiality in the process.
Churches are now advertising publicly via the internet and press release, the names, bio and personal information of candidates for their pastoral assignment. Even to the point of trumpeting the information in local newspapers, which are now carried by the internet as well.
Here’s why you shouldn’t do it:
a. It undermines the credibility of the candidating pastor in his current assignment. Imagine the shock, horror, and in some members’ eyes, glee, of reading that their pastor is being considered by another congregation. There is a sad double-standard that unfortunately is truth – some people belief stuff because it’s on the internet – and to see that their soul-watcher, beloved or despised, is under consideration, adds a needless stress to a candidate’s current environment.
b. It makes the candidate wonder. To me, if a church will fire off a press release, I wonder what else they are capable of firing off at a moment’s notice. Will they fire off a press release as a rebuttal to a pastoral decision? Will they fire off a press release if the pastor becomes ill with a terminal disease? It sets up an unfriendly environment upon the pastor’s arrival.
c. It breaks confidentiality. I have yet to see a pastoral application that says, “by the way, everything we do will be public and you have no control of the process.” Pulpit Committees have a fiduciary responsibility to keep the name of the pastoral finalists confidential and then when the time for decision making comes – keep it in house. You’re church is not that big to where you need to post information on the internet – unless you’ve agreed on one candidate, the committee feels that a significant majority of the church will accept the candidate and the vote is soon. Posting that information six weeks in advance is a serious breach of confidentiality.
Candidates – a word to you. Insist on confidentiality in the process.